2024 Bears Free Agent Target: Andre James
Stephen Sylvanie - USA Today Sports

2024 Bears Free Agent Target: Andre James

by - Senior Writer -

I hope all of you enjoyed the NFL Combine festivities last week, as there will be plenty to talk about. That all starts and stops with Caleb Williams deciding to decline on everything apart from talking to the media. It may not be accurate, but most believe he is the first-ever player to attend the combine and not even go through the medical side.

That could be a concern to some as they feel he may be hiding something, but for most, they have concluded that he is just over the whole college thing at this point and is just waiting for the draft to be over. Before we can even get to the draft, you must worry about free agency, which starts in nine days.

As expected, the Bears are expected to be active once again as their moves during free agency will dictate what they do come the NFL draft. One position that isn't talked about enough needs to be addressed, and that is the center position. After letting Cody Whitehair go and having Lucas Patrick deal with a plethora of injuries the past two seasons, the Center spot has been a revolving door for this team, and they would like to address that with a long-term replacement.

Andre James could be one of the guys they target for the center position as the former Las Vegas Raider is now on the open market looking for a new home. James is not only an excellent player and has been for years, but he would fill in nicely at a position of need for this team at a spot they don't have.

Set to enter his sixth NFL season, the 26-year-old James is about to enter his prime. With no projected contract value at this point, the Bears could be in the driver's seat to offer him a fair deal and see where the market takes them. It's no secret that the Raiders were a dumpster fire under Josh McDaniels, only to turn things around with new Head Coach Antonio Pierce.

The offense was a mess, but the defense played exceptionally well, especially during the second half of the season. However, the offensive line was better than some might think, especially over the season's final month, and James played a role in the overall improvement. Across 16 games last season, James had 963 snaps played, four sacks allowed, three penalties, and 74.6 PFF. The sacks allowed, and penalties stand out, as he didn't hurt his team and did a great job keeping whoever was under Center upright.

Looking at the numbers, you may see that 74.6 PFF grade and feel like it is a low number. That is far from the case, as it ranked in the top 10 among NFL centers and was just outside the top five. Last season was a career year for James, and entering free agency for the first time, he picked the perfect time to have a big year.

That is amazing when you think about it, as James was an undrafted player out of UCLA who had to work his way up the depth chart. He did that through hard work, and his play did the talking as he continually gave 100% in practice, which paid off in the long run to grab a roster spot. Once he had that spot, James continued working his way up the depth chart to the point where he was a starting caliber Center last season and will look to land a long-term deal again.

Despite the situation in Vegas last season and everything the team had to go through, James has been a consistent piece on the Raiders offensive line over the last three years, and some would say he anchored the entire line. Through it all, however, James excelled and was a steady veteran for rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell to lean on once he took over the starting job midway through the season, and the line became a borderline Top-10 unit before all was said and done.

At this point, the Bears don't have a Center, and that is something this team will need to address sooner rather than later. Three of the four Centers this team had are entering free agency, and Doug Kramer is the only player on this roster who can play the Center position. He has yet to play an NFL game.

Although not the top priority for this team this offseason, the Center will be one of the priorities during the free agent process as the Bears know they need to find a long-term solution. There are holes on this team, and this is one of the most obvious holes that needs to be addressed heading into 2024.

Comment on this story
Send Feedback to Dustin Riese: Email | Comment
Post your comments!